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Culture

New York's City Ballet leader Peter Martins retires following sexual harassment allegations

Banned from giving courses in early December, the head of New York's City Ballet has now retired but still contests the charges.

Following allegations of sexual harassment, Peter Martins, the powerful leader of New York's renowned City Ballet, has given up his position.  As The New York Times reported, Martins (71), originally from Denmark, explained his decision in a letter to the managing board, in which he rejected the accusations. "I have denied, and continue to deny, that I have engaged in any such misconduct, " Mr. Martins stated in the letter.

Approximately twenty male and female dancers have accused Martins of having molested them verbally or physically, or of having misused his position for receiving sexual favors.

Martin has shaped the dancing company over three decades. In early December, he was banned from lecturing at the School of American Ballet.

'Extraordinary artistic heights'

City Ballet Board Chairman Charles W. Scharf thanked Martins for his work, saying that he had led the ensemble to extraordinary artistic heights while noting that the misconduct investigation would continue.

Ever since sexual abuse allegations against influential Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein first emerged, a flood of sexual harassment charges against influential figures in the cultural world has followed. The wave of accusations reached the classical music scene last month when New York's Metropolitan Opera suspended its long-time music director James Levine from all activities. Shortly before Christmas, the chief conductor of London's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Charles Dutoit, was suspended following similar accusations. Like Martins, both Dutoit and Levine have denied the allegations.

jj/uh/ad/rf (dpa, afp)